Part 3

Too many, too much.

A few weeks ago a major international opinionating magazine called our current era: the age of uncertainty. In my opinion a proper description relating to the future of a child born today. When I look at the current situation humankind finds itself in today, this “pops up” in my mind: too many, too much. Common sense talking. I like it, because it is a simple and very clear thought to relate to. Too many, too much is the reason why all I have written  is called: World Population Limitation Movement. Not World Population Stabilization Movement. Too many, too much is a good description of our current situation because it also provides an answer. An answer to the long term uncertainty that children born today will face. Again, a simple and very clear thought to relate to: not too many, not too much.

Too many, too much.

At this moment I can imagine that you, dear reader, are a bit confused. I would like to “clear up things” for you. The intention of Part 2 is not to tell you to change your eating habits. Not at all. For me the impressive number of protein producing animals is only partly the result of human lifestyle, and what people eat in daily life. I understand that there will be disagreement on my view. Several well known environmental groups certainly disagree with this statement. For me it is simply not the issue here. I am looking at this from a different perspective. Part 2 is a research into the consequences of world population growth, today and in the near future. For us humans and the planet we live on. This is not about “too much”. This is about “too many”. In my opinion the main reason for this awesome number of protein producing animals is the size of the world population. The number of protein producing animals is the consequence of having 8 billion humans on this planet. Because we are with that many we use too much, too many people using too much. Not the other way around.

For several weeks now I have been writing about Climate Change and Corona. Climate Change as a result of a global human population of 8 billion, with a mind set on growth only, behaving as 8 billion consumers. Corona as a result of 8 billion people living, in close proximity, with 80 billion animals for their demand of protein. I filled a lot of pages. Today I threw them in the bin. Of course Climate Change and Corona will be two major issues that will determine the quality of the near future for a child born today. But what will ultimately determine the quality of the long term future for many generations to come, and the future of humankind as a species on this planet: that is Sustainability.

What is sustainable? It’s very complicated indeed, and I will try to make it simple. In daily life you use things. The things you use, can, and will be, renewed by the planet Earth. If the amount of things you use is the same amount of things the planet can regenerate: that is sustainable. Important note: this must be including the rubbish you leave behind, “the mess you make” must also be renewed. Every scientist in the world will say this is too simple, and I agree. In front of me, at this moment, are 4 Wikipedia pages explaining the basics of sustainable. Of course I can copy them, but the result of that is: you will stop reading. For me this description, is the basic principle of sustainable.

Earth Overshoot Day.

When you use more than the planet can renew, you are in “overshoot”(Our Ecological Footprint: Reducing Human Impact on the Earth, Wackernagel, Rees, 1996). The Ecological Footprint Network has developed a method to measure human demand on earth’s biocapacity. Biocapacity is the earth’s ability to renew/regenerate things you used. To answer the following questions Ecological Footprint Analysis developed an ecological accounting system that is widely used around the world.  Is what you use sustainable? Or what a population uses?  Or a country, a continent, or what the world population uses on this planet? Is that sustainable? “According to Global Footprint Network’s calculations, the planet Earth has been in overshoot since the 1970’s”(Ecological Footprint Accounting for Countries, Lin, Hanson, Marthy, Galli, Evans, Neill, Marein, Martindill, Medouer,Huang, Wackernagel, 2018). Since the 1970’s human behavior is not sustainable. In 1975 the world population number amounted to 4.07 billion. In 2006, in partnership with Global Footprint Network, the first Earth Overshoot Day campaign was launched. The principle is quite simple and brilliant at the same time. “Earth Overshoot Day marks the date when humanity’s demand has exhausted nature’s budget for the year”(Earth Overshoot Day website, Global Footprint Network, 2022). In 2022, Earth Overshoot Day fell on July 28. On July 28 2022 humankind has used everything the planet can deliver/renew in this year. On December 31 2022 we used 175% of what the planet is able to deliver in a sustainable way. On November 15 2022 the world population number reached the new record of 8 billion. In 2022 humans used 1.75 planet Earths. Not sustainable.

Too many, too much

Not sustainable in two ways. The first one is obvious and mentioned before: too many, too much. The second way is more complicated. Earth is an ecosystem, an ecosystem that can regenerate humanity’s demand using the planet’s biocapacity. The ecosystem is driven by worldwide biodiversity. Biodiversity is seated in the natural habitat of our planet, it’s in our planet’s nature. “Agriculture has a major impact on the earth’s natural environment”(Land Use, Ritchie, Roser, 2019). Where agriculture is developed the natural habitat disappears. “This loss of habitat has been the main driver for reducing the world’s biodiversity” (Environmental Impacts of Food Production, Ritchie, Roser, 2019). And subsequently reducing the planet’s biocapacity, it’s ability to regenerate the things we use. According to the International Union for Conversation of Nature and Natural Resources Red List, 42.000 species are threatened with extinction. “Agriculture is listed as a threat for 24.000 of them”(Land Use, Ritchie, Roser, 2019).

“Land clearing” is the commonly used phrase for creating suitable land for agriculture. The two words say it all. Everything is removed: bushes, boulders, trees; including everything that lives in or on them. ”The land is subsequently “broken” to create a workable “bed” into which the crop can be seeded”(Land Use, Ritchie, Roser, 2019). In this process anything that lives in this “bed” is destroyed; animals living under the surface, insects, seeds and roots of not desired plant life. With the intention to have the highest possible production of the crop intended. With the result that nothing else will live and grow there. Only the seeded crop will flourish. The process is the same even if the intended crop is grass for feeding livestock on a pasture.

Too many, too much

The behavior of humankind is like a double-bladed knife. It cuts on our planet’s resources with both sides. One side cuts on resources by the ever growing demand, combined with the near future growth of global human population. The other side cuts on the planet’s ability to regenerate those resources used. Human behavior results in a decline of natural habitat, biodiversity and subsequently earth’s biocapacity. And that will result in a decline in the planet’s ability to regenerate humankind’s demands. The double-bladed knife represents a very dangerous combination for our future. For the quality of future children born today are going to have. It is also a dangerous combination for the long term future of humankind as a species on this planet. Too many people using too much.

March 2023, these are the last two pages. A small research in world population growth has reached it’s final part. If you, dear reader, are still reading something will change. Because now you understand: what you do today can and will matter. After 9 months of pregnancy the World Population Limitation Movement is born. So, totally unexpected, physically impossible, at an age of 66, I delivered my baby. It is up to you “to nurture it”, so it will be able “to grow up”. You can do this by giving this small research to your husband, wife, partner, boy or girlfriend  to read. Talk about it with your loved ones. Share it as much as you can.

I would like to tell you how this research started. This was started by a disturbing news item in 2021. Several hospitals in The Netherlands noticed something peculiar. Every month 5 to 10 young women came in and asked to be sterilized “voluntary”. Without having any disease or physical discomfort. So the doctors asked: Why? The young women’s answer was quite stunning, their message loud and clear: I see no future for my children. That answer kept “going round and round” in my mind, it kept “haunting me”. That’s how it started.

Concluding this research I would like to address one remaining issue. For decades it is a well known scientific fact: the world population will stop growing. Everybody agrees. In what year this will happen and what the “all time record” will be is unknown. Everybody disagrees. Two things are fairly certain: a child born today will live to the end of this century and the world population will grow until the end of this century. But something is going to change. Something will happen for the first time in human history. The way humankind reacts to this new development has consequences. Although the total global population will grow until the end of this century: population numbers on several continents, and subsequently in many countries, are estimated to stop growing and will even start to decline. When a population stops growing in the near future you “can see that coming” today. A population decline in the near future starts with a decline in birth number in the present time. A decline in the number of babies born in one year. This is already happening in several countries today. When this occurs “all alarm bells start ringing”. Countries faced with a decline in birth number all do the same thing. Governments in charge raise their budgets and change their regulations in favor of larger families. In this century population numbers in Europe are estimated to decline first, followed by North and South America. So it’s safe to say that in the very near future a large amount of countries will face a decline in birth number. There are no scientific data available to suggest their response will be different. There is no reason to doubt they will do the same thing. The world population will stop growing, this new development will not change the fact. In the future we will reach the “turning point”, where growth stops. But the manner in which national governments react to national “alarm bells” will have an effect on our future.

With an increasing amount of larger families the world population will grow more than estimated. Therefore it will take a longer amount of time to reach the moment where growth will stop, the “turning point” will be postponed. As a result the “all time record” number of the world population will be higher than estimated. This is why I would like to say again: politics will not provide the answer. This is why the World Population Limitation Movement is not addressed to politicians or governments. This is why it is addressed to you. To ordinary people all over the planet wanting and having children.

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